New York: Mark's Place Serves as Stepping Stone
April 26, 2006
Mark's Place, operating in an old Victorian house in Niagara Falls' North End, provides the only transitional housing for AIDS patients in Niagara County, which has the second-highest AIDS incidence in Western New York. Dozens of residents have passed through 1011 Michigan Ave. since Mark's Place opened in September 2004. The clients were homeless or just out of medical treatment centers.
"This is a buffer zone between institutional care and independent living," said Brian J. Planty, program supervisor for the house, which is owned and operated by Community Missions of Niagara Frontier (CMNF).
"It took a long time to get funding," said Don Luce, Community Missions' public relations director, who began plans for the house shortly after joining the agency in 1998. "It's a hard sell because of the social stigma surrounding the disease." Mark's Place is named in honor of Mark Bonacci, a professor of human services at Niagara County Community College who was instrumental in launching the house. To keep it open, CMNF raises a $100,000 budget annually. The facility houses four residents at a time.
Residents cook meals, wash their clothes, and get acclimated to taking care of their affairs. They stay on average six to nine months at the house before moving on, often to their own apartments.
"We need more homes for HIV-positive people," said Planty. "Mark's Place is just a small cog in a huge HIV network. It's frustrating to know there are so many people who need help with no place to go."
04.23.06; Bill Michelmore
This article was provided by U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update. Visit the CDC's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.